The average monthly earnings for dealers at Macau casinos increased by 4.8 percent year-on-year to MOP17,530 (US$2,196) at the end of June this year, according to the latest Statistics and Census Service’s Survey on Manpower Needs and Wages of the Gaming Sector.
There were 25,727 dealers in the city’s casinos as of June 30, up by 7.1 percent from a year earlier. Dealers accounted for 45.4 percent of all employees in the gaming industry, the figures showed.
The growth in the average monthly dealer wage is however lagging monthly wage growth for the Macau gaming industry as a whole.
Average earnings of full-time casino employees in June, excluding bonuses and allowances, rose by 6.7 percent year-on-year to MOP20,160, with resident and non-resident employees earning an average of MOP20,140 and MOP20,500 respectively.
Full-time employees in the gaming industry totalled 56,700 at the end of the second quarter of 2014, an increase of 2,146 from a year earlier.
According to Monday’s data, casino dealers in Macau earn on average the equivalent of US$26,352 per year. In the U.S., the national average base pay for a traditional casino dealer is US$14,700 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but that figure does not include company benefits and tips.
In Las Vegas alone, dealers earn monthly an average of US$4,000, Reuters reported last month citing U.S.-based industry analysts.
At a time when casino worker wages have risen across the board in Macau, job vacancies for dealers have dropped by 38.8 percent year-on-year to only 503 at the end of June, said the statistics bureau. Industry-wide, there were a total of 1,529 job vacancies.
Employee turnover rate and recruitment rate in the gaming sector were 4.1 percent and 5.5 percent respectively in the second quarter of 2014. The job vacancy rate stood at 2.6 percent, decreasing by 0.2 percentage points from a year earlier, “indicating that some of the vacancies have been filled,” the bureau said.
Casino operators have been hit with rising labour costs that were not anticipated to weigh on margins until next year. Investment bank Morgan Stanley forecasts that labour demand for the city’s casino resorts will rise by 38 percent between 2014 and 2017, fuelled by the opening of several new projects in Cotai.
Many of the jobs to be created will be for dealers and only Macau permanent residents are permitted to work as dealers. The city’s unemployment rate stood at 1.7 percent at the end of June.
Higher labour costs are expected drag on casino operators’ margins as labour unrest intensifies, gaming analysts have warned. Local labour activist group Forefront of the Macao Gaming has scheduled a new protest for Monday, calling for the continuity of the “locals only” policy for dealer positions, alongside improvements in the pay and promotion policies for casino staff.
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”Assuming that our [Tigre de Cristal] phase two project and the other future operators’ development plans remain on track, we may see the benefits of a ‘cluster’ effect [in the Primorye Integrated Entertainment Zone] as early as 2021”
Summit Ascent, lead developer of Tigre de Cristal